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As seen on The 3rd String Safety
It seemed like the Jets had a legitimate plan walking into this critical off season. They appeared to have a handle on what they needed to improve on their team and make them a contender. It involved cutting some dead weight, and adding some talent without spending too much money.
The clock struck midnight on the February 29th, and the Jets came out swinging as free agency opened. They sent Jonathan Vilma to the Saints for a package of draft picks. They spent 40 million on Alan Faneca, a seven-time pro bowl guard. It's a lot of cash to give a guard, but they filled a need, so, that's fine.
Then, they made a trade with the Panthers for defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. The concern of fans of gang green has to be that Jenkins has never played the 3-4 nose tackle position before. In fact, the main strength of his game is the ability to penetrate the offensive line, which is not what you want out of a nose tackle. In this defense, his job will be to swallow up as many blockers as he can so middle linebacker David Harris can flow to the ball.
Jenkins certainly has the body to play his new position at 6'4, 335 pounds, but has had trouble keeping off excess weight. He won't be of any use to the Jets if he doesn't command double teams because he's slow off the ball at 370 pounds. He also has had problems staying on the field, missing 30 games over his eight year career.
It's not that Jenkins won't be good. It's that he isn't the slam dunk that everyone is making him out to be. It would be a shame if the Jets gave up a 3rd and a 5th round pick for a guy who can't stay on the field and doesn't have an impact.
Over the weekend, general manager Mike Tannenbaum's flurry of activity continued, and his real errors started flowing in. He traded away Dewayne Robertson to the Bengals for a couple of mid round picks. Then, Robertson sabotaged the entire thing by refusing the renegotiate his monster contract. As of now, the Jets are stuck with a 54 million dollar man that doesn't fit the defense they run.
Then, they signed former Lions offensive lineman Damien Woody. Woody made his name playing center in New England, and was an above average guard while playing in Detroit. Last season, Detroit's offensive line was so banged up that he moved out to right tackle in an experiment that you can barely call a success. Yet, here he is just three months later receiving 11 million dollars in guaranteed money to play right tackle for the Jets. What is the desire to play people out of position on this team? Is it a gimmick? Is it head coach Eric Mangini being stubborn and insisting that he can make players better than they are by plugging them into his system? No matter what it, it's not a good idea. To do it in rare cases is fine, but at they rate the Jets are going Chad Pennington will be playing safety by August.
Then, there was the coup-de-grace, the signing of outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Pace is a former first round pick that never seemed to pan out until last season when the Cardinals switched to the 3-4 defense. Pace was no longer charged with covering linebackers or running backs, his only concern was rushing the passer. He had a "breakout" season, which included 6.5 sacks.
There's only one problem, Calvin Pace is already on the Jets, or at least a clone of him is. Bryan Thomas never amounted to anything until the Jets switched to the 3-4 defense, and then had a breakout in his contract year. He was re-signed to a big contract by the Jets and asked to be their main rusher this year. He finished the year with just 2.5 sacks.
Everyone is appaulding the Jets for having such a great off season. However the truth is that short of the Bears, who may not have a wide receiver on their roster, the Jets have had the league's worst. This plan that they have put into action will not only disappoint from a football perspective, but will leave the team in salary cap hell when the next general manager tries to fix the mess that Tannenbaum created.